The US Congress dominated by the Republicans will try to hamper restoration of relations with Cuba, and Obama lacks any serious political weight to overcome their pressure. Cuba will use its geopolitical position as a "chip for bargaining" with Russia, US and other countries.
In December 2014, Cuba and the US declared resumption of diplomatic relations. US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Cuba on August 14 to attend the solemn ceremony of the opening of the American embassy in Havana. The embassy officially opened on July 20, simultaneously with the Cuban embassy in Washington. The restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba is one of the biggest achievements of the incumbent US administration in foreign politics.
Alexei Mukhin , Director General of the Center for Political Information, expert of the Valdai Discussion Club, and other political analysts have recently attended a round-table conference entitled "Cuba and US: Relations Resumed. What Next?"
The expert noted that Obama had given very many promises throughout the two presidential terms, yet failed to keep most of them. It appears that the declaration to resume relations between Cuba and the US would not entail any further progress. The US Congress dominated by the Republicans will try to hamper restoration of relations with Cuba, and Obama lacks any serious political weight to overcome their pressure. Americans will not withdraw from Guantanamo hands down. The base is a subject of too many scandals. Lifting of sanctions in the near future is not likely either. The reciprocal intransigence will continue for years.
Cuba itself is ready for resumption of relations. According to Mr. Mukhin, the idea of socialist revolution died, and Cuba is standing at the very beginning of the path towards a consumer society. People have grown tired of the revolution, and the transition of power from Fidel Castro to his brother Raul is an opportunity to alter the dominating ideological concept.
Alexei Mukhin believes that Cuba will use its geopolitical position as a "chip for bargaining" with Russia, US and other countries. The expert paid special attention to the factor of Cuban expats. Not all emigrants will return to the island, but their emissaries will be setting new game rules with the help of Americans. It should be borne in mind that revanchist sentiments of the expats would hinder development of the America-Cuba relations.
In the expert's opinion, the US administration was over-irritated by the recent rapid rapprochement between Cuba and Russia. Russia wrote off Cuban debts, it is actively developing cooperation in the sectors of commerce and energy. The US is trying to keep up with Russia and revive the shattered relations with countries Russia sets its eyes upon. Americans are exceptionally sensitive to the prospects of Russia's establishing outposts in Cuba and other Latin American states.
Eduard Belyi, expert of the Russian International Affairs Council, disagreed with Mr.Mukhin's viewpoint that the idea of socialist revolution was dead in Cuba. Just as people of China and Vietnam, Cubans are capable of adopting the market economy, but the nation had been absorbing socialistic ideas for decades. Euromaidans and colour revolutions will not happen in Cuba. A Chinese-Vietnamese scenario is more likely. The sanctions were imposed in retaliation to the expropriation of American property. Americans have clear principles, and they stick to them. Property must never be embezzled. Paying compensations could lead to a consensus, but Cubans are out of money. Americans will keep pressing on Cubans into recognizing the expropriation as an unlawful act, eventually reaching a modus vivendi.
Alexei Martynov, Director of the International Institute for New States, emphasized at the round-table conference that Cuba had withstood in a struggle against the biggest regional state, the US, for 50 years. Cubans possess a strength margin, including ideological endurance, but it is impossible for a country to develop in the modern world without ties with the key state. The opening of the embassies is the only stepping stone thus far.
The expert noted that China was solidly established in Cuba. The island's trade turnover with Russia is only half of the China-Cuba trade volumes. Regarding the US, Washington has already formed a system of relations with Latin American states. Nothing would probably change after the restoration of ties with Cuba. Cuba remains in the US sphere of influence in any case. Russia is exasperated by Americans' interference in Ukraine. Washington is naturally feeling the same about Russia's presence in Cuba. The US will try to shut the Latin American doors for Russia as much as possible.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.